D.I.C.E. 2013 - Warren Spector Talks Aging With Gaming

By Kevin Kelly

At 57.33 years old, according to him, Warren Spector has seen a lot of chaos in 35 years of video game development, which is was seeking to impart on some of the younger developers at D.I.C.E. Although on looking around when taking the stage, he wondered if he wasn’t seeing them because “they couldn’t afford to come out here.”

But before he began the core of his discussion, he addressed the elephant in the room to a degree. “As many of you may have heard, my studio Junction Point is not around any longer.” He didn’t use this opportunity to lambast Disney, but instead said that he was proud to work with a great team of people, and to be able to visit Disneyland and Walt Disney World as a contributor and not just a spectator, which is the amount of gracious commentary you would expect from the always classy Spector.

He briefly waxed poetic about how far the industry has come, and how much things have change, remembering the days of worrying about K in terms of memory, only having one color to work with, and the fact that “beeps and boops were the best we could do.” Now he wants to hand over his three and a half decades of wisdom, to new developers.

“One of the prerogatives of age is that I get to say whatever I want,” Spector said, before going on to say that he loved David Cage’s talk from the first day of D.I.C.E. following that up with, “I agree with everything you said, disagree with every solution you proposed for it.” Hopefully they can get these two guys on stage at some point to debate the future of the industry, while the rest of us grab popcorn and imagine David Jaffe’s reaction to both of them.

He explained that with age, his own gaming experience has changed, and that what he wants out of gaming has changed as well. While he said that some games shouldn’t have been made at all, while an image from Lollipop Chainsaw hit the screen, he did say that some of the most powerful, recent gaming experiences he has had have been with “Heavy Rain” and “The Walking Dead.”

Age has had a lot to do with his changing view, pointing out that the 40s were a fantastic time for him, as you had the benefit of experience, while retaining the energy of youth. But when he got to 50, he found that he didn’t care about blasters and broadswords any more. He also noticed that his energy level had dropped, meaning that he had no time to waste. “You start caring about passion over analytics.”

While he has focused on a specific type of game for most of his development history, games with high commitment and high skill, that changed when he began working for Disney, and he noted that his laser focus on one specific type of game, meant that he wasn’t able to focus on other types of games at all. “You need to be learning constantly … and when you’re an older developer you need to be sharing more.” So while he definitely has the benefit of age and experience, he’s still open learning new things. Hopefully this will help steer whatever course he takes next. Anyone want to wager that he might tackle the mobile game arena?

He said that when the Disney announcement came down about the studio, one of the people he worked with asked him why he didn’t just retire. Thankfully, Spector has far too much creativity and passion to just retire. He wants to be at D.I.C.E. 2043, hopping around on bionic legs and using nano-augmented eyes. He closed out with a shot of his LinkedIn page, noting (humorously), that he’s looking for work.

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